The post-Christmas discounting got under way early today, but the consensus among analysts was that there was little retailers could do to salvage the holiday shopping season.
Macy's, Gottschalks and many other retailers were open by 6 a.m., and JC Penney had its "doorbusters" out at 5:30 a.m. Discounts of 50 to 80 percent were commonplace.
Combined with the rush of folks eager to return their unwanted goodies or redeem their gift cards, it figures to be a busy weekend. But it won't save the season.
"One or two days are not going to salvage the season," said George Whalin of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos.
The early statistics were dismal. The SpendingPulse division of MasterCard Advisors said retail sales fell 5.5 to 8 percent during the holiday season. Excluding gas and auto sales, they were down 2 to 4 pecent.
One retailer, Bob Carlton of Merlo's Cutlery in Arden Fair mall, said his business dropped 30 to 35 percent. "Everybody in the mall I talked to is not doing well," he said. "Nobody had any kind of year."
My colleague Darrell Smith is out talking to shoppers right now, and we'll have plenty more in Saturday's paper.